LKY FIELD INSPECTION DATES SET FOR JUNE, JULY, AUGUST

It’s just about that time of the year to start visiting some of our folks around the country and do some LKY field inspections. I enjoy seeing  drivers away from LKY and spending “quality time” under the trucks. The basic schedule will be the same as previous years, but we have scheduled a couple of new things. Rob Curry will be sharing the fun with me on several of these trips. Here’s what is currently scheduled:

Tuesday, June 24-Wednesday, June 25. Rob and I will be in Wichita at the WKS office, 8-5 both days.

Thursday, June 26. Rob and I will be at our Boss Shop inspection location in Tulsa, OK, 8-5.

Monday, July 14-Tuesday, July 15. I will be inspecting CARB-compliant trucks in Lodi, CA, 7:30-5 both days.

Monday, July 21-Tuesday, July 22. Rob will be inspecting Western trucks in Ogden, UT, 7:30-5 both days.

Mark your calender now for Friday August 8 and Saturday August 9. During Mercer’s Wounded Warrier Silent Auction in March, CCC agent Chris Carpenter won the breakfast cooked by ME! We are going to do that at the TA in Medina, OH on Saturday morning. Rob and I will be doing LKY inspections at the TA on Friday and we’ll be cooking breakfast for Mercer folks on Saturday! You probably don’t want to eat anything I cook, but we’ll have some other fantastic chefs, great food and a good time.

If you plan on being at any of these locations for an inspection, please call Maria x3375 and get on my list. I hope everyone has a great weekend. Be safe.


MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS

Memorial Day weekend offers us all a chance to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice defending our right to be Americans with all that honor entails. Despite all our complaining and arguing, the United States of America is the best country on earth. I am proud to be an American and appreciate the service of all the generations of brave Americans who have preserved our right to be us. God Bless America!

Memorial Day weekend also gives many of us a chance to pause and plan for the busy summer season ahead. In my case, there are meetings, court cases and truck inspections all over the country to schedule. When you start plugging things in, it becomes apparent that not only is there not enough time in the day, but there are also not enough days in the week. Next week, I’ll start posting exact dates for everyone for Louisville inspections. For now, I’ll share that you will see us in all the regular places in the regular months: Wichita, KS, June; Lodi,CA,July; Sunbury/Youngwood, PA, September; Arkadelphia, AR, October; Newberry, SC,October; Lake City FL, November.

We also have a couple of new inspection locations this year: In July, we will visit Salt Lake City to catch the non-CARB western trucks. In August, I will be doing the Wounded Warrior breakfast for winner CCC in Cleveland. We will have a pretty nice time at the T/A up there with that. And yes, wearing my pink apron was part of the deal! As always, if you know you want to be inspected at any of these locations, call Maria at ext 3375 and get on my list. More on all of these later.

Mark your calender NOW for the annual CVSA Roadcheck which will be June 3-5. Expect 72 hours of a DOT inspection extravaganza. Be Prepared! If you are running during that period, it is prudent to have your equipment thoroughly checked by a competent shop, especially brake adjustment. As in prior years, we double clean inspection credit scores during Roadcheck. Clean inspections are important.

May 21 marked the beginning of the FMCSA Medical Registry. Now, all DOT physicals MUST be preformed by a medical practioner who has been registered and has a valid registry number. Physicals done by non-registered medical professionals will not be honored. The registry is available on the FMCSA website. They also have a locator to help you find one in your area. Be sure you use one on the registry and don’t forget to submit a copy of your new medical card to your state each time you get a new one. That is YOUR responsibility. Do not wait until the last minute to get this stuff done.

Finally, remember that I am hooked in with many states via twitter and forward traffic problems and other items of interest along as I get them. My twitter is @MercerTrans_Len

I hope each of you spends as much time as possible with your loved ones. Be safe.


SAFETY SEMINAR VIDEOS NOW AVAILABLE

As many of you know, for the first time we video recorded the three Wednesday safety seminars presented during MATS week. As freight has significantly picked up, it was impossible for many of our folks to attend MATS this year. Every year, we offer three safety seminars on timely subjects and give drivers credit for attendance. We want all Mercer drivers to be exposed to the material presented and have now made that possible.

Beginning tomorrow, April 22, we will offer the three videos in Classroom #2 of the Recruiting Building. The videos will begin promptly at 8:00 am and finish at about 11:30. This will be done on Tuesdays and Thursdays ONLY. This will be continued through at least the end of July. If you are interested in viewing the videos, check in with Jan at the Building 8 reception desk. These will not be available in the field or online.

I encourage everyone who was not here during MATS to visit LKY in the next few months and take advantage of this program. It is good information and will improve your safety score at Mercer.

Rob Curry and I are working on the LKY field inspection schedule which will begin in June. We will post the dates and locations when all are confirmed. Look for that probably by the middle of next week.

Remember, stay at or below the posted speed limit, watch following distance and keep logs current. I follow many state DOT road conditions and other information on Twitter. You can follow me @MercerTrans_Len. Be safe.


NO HEADACHE RACK = BIG HEADACHE

My friend Dave Lande #12568 called me yesterday and asked me if I had heard about an accident in Oregon or Washington involving beams going through the cab of a truck. Dave has some wrecker experience in his past: He and I speak often about various cargo securement problems. Sometimes he makes them up just to bug me. Don’t let the “zip code” number fool you. Like many Mercer hands, he is a “repeat offender”…..he used to be #8021. Sometimes the grass is greener, sometimes it’s just more grass and back to the Mercer Family you come. Anyway, he knows how strongly I feel about headache racks and gave me one to check out. So I did.

The accident involved a flatbed with a load of steel channel that had to make a quick stop. The load went through the sleeper and through the right side of the cab and out the windshield. Incredibly, the driver survived. Had the load gone through the left side, the driver’s head could have very likely been lying on the street with the windshield glass. Check it out at: http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/mar/05/steel-beam-tears-through-vancouver-truck-tualatin-/

You know, we always hear the same old line, “You can’t put a price on a human life.” Well, this driver and the motor carrier he works for both did. At Mercer, that price would be $940. That’s the price of a headache rack, the installation kit and the installation labor. The price goes down about $100 if you install it yourself. That’s the cost that is “saved” when risking a driver’s life in this type of accident. While I don’t know exactly how many pennies I’m worth, I do know that every driver at Mercer is worth considerably more than $940. Considerably more.

The DOT lets you put an extra chain or strap on the front instead of requiring a headache rack. Really? It sure didn’t do much good with steel channel. Here’s a newsflash: It doesn’t work well with I-beams or coils or lumber or poles or pipe, either. It also doesn’t work real well with plywood or trusses. In some forty years in this business I’ve seen all of that stuff go through cabs, and some of it through drivers. These days, you can be labeled unsafe for having a light out, or an oil leak, or a chaffed air line, but you’re safe without a headache rack. That does not make sense to me and it is certainly not how we do business. Here’s some simple Uncle Lennie math: If you amortize the $940 over just two loads per week at 50 weeks per year it is an expense of $9.40 per load. Do it for five years and the expense reduces to $3.76 per load. That’s 188 $5 Wendy’s or McDonald’s lunches. Weighed against a driver’s life, $940 is about the cheapest insurance you can buy.

At Mercer, and at most leading open deck carriers, a headache rack is required. Our policy allows only two exceptions: 1) An RGN with a gooseneck or disabled top deck; 2) A custom sleeper with a reinforced back wall for which I have reviewed the shop fabrication diagram. Anyone else running an unprotected cab is subject to immediate termination. It is that important. Each of you is that important.

We can talk all day about compliance with safety rules and company policies and getting all the details right. All of that is important and it is all part of our job. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we didn’t hurt anybody and that each of you returned home safely to the ones you love. That, my friends, is a good day. Think safe, act safe, be safe. You are the best.


GUARD YOUR CDL

By now, most of you know that you are now required to self-certify your medical qualifications with the state that issued your CDL. This is a Federal requirement that was pushed down to the states. Its intent is to phase out the requirement of having to carry a medical card: If you have a current CDL, it will be presumed you are medically qualified. For now, through at least all of 2014 however, you still have to carry your card.

Most drivers at Mercer have received a self-certification letter from their state DMV. The questionaire contained four questions and boxes to check. Mercer drivers should check box #1, which means you are “non-excepted interstate.” That questionaire, with a copy of your medical card, should be sent to your state. Different states have different procedures. Some must be mailed, some faxed, some can be done electronically. Florida has one of the best electronic systems out there, pretty quick and painless.

Some drivers have still not self-certified, or if they did, have since gotten a new physical and have not submitted their new card. If you are not current on your medical self-certification, your state may suspend your CDL or otherwise disqualify you. If that happens, it will show on your MVR. If you receive a roadside inspection you will be shut down and placed out of service until corrected, loaded or not. In addition, you get the CSA points (30) for driving while disqualified.

On February 1, the state of Indiana disqualified 7,160 drivers with Indiana CDLs that had not self-certified their current medical cards. So far this month, Mercer has placed nearly sixty drivers out of service when it was discovered on the annual review MVR that they had not self-certified. Mercer will not load or allow to operate any driver that has a suspended or cancelled CDL. If it happens to you, you are dead in the water until it is fixed, loaded or not.

It is important to note: MERCER WILL NOT DO THIS FOR YOU. The maintenance of your CDL is your responsibility. Having your CDL suspended for any reason is something you must deal with directly with your state DMV. It is just like a suspension for an unpaid ticket, no insurance on a personal vehicle or delinquent child support. These things are your problem, not Mercer’s. If you get placed out of service for a suspended CDL, you jeopardize your continuing relationship with Mercer, so guard it diligently. My staff has been instructed not to handle medical self-certs for drivers. Don’t ask. If we discover one, they, or me, will be calling you. You contact your state DMV. If you haven’t sent your medical card in, or you have had a new physical since you sent your previous card in, you should get in touch with your state DMV as soon as possible, like TODAY, to stay qualified. Don’t wait till the last minute and expect your state to get in a hurry for you. It probably won’t happen. Tax dollars at work. Enough said about this.

Several guys have asked about the twitter account and if it replaces the blog. The answer is that the blog will continue. It is just that some weeks I have very little time to blog, but can get something out fast on twitter. If you want to follow along, it is @MercerTrans_Len

On a different note, the ELD project is picking up steam. A lot of guys that were afraid of it have taken the plunge and found out that it isn’t the end of the world after all. More than 140 running now, another 100 on the waiting list. And Mercer is paying for it currently.If you are interested, call Rob Curry. He is running that project. Drivers with log violations are learning that not only do they have to come in for log orientation within thirty days but they also get to see me. Once. Multiple log violations earn a driver the choice of ELD or Alumni Society. The Mercer standard is clean inspections. Anything noted on a DOT Driver/Vehicle Examination report other than “no violations” is a problem with CSA, and with Mercer. “Just a warning” is a problem. DOT inspections with violations noted have consequences for drivers at Mercer.

Remember, Mercer drivers are the best. But being the best carries an enormous responsibility to remain the best. You have to work at it every day. Polish your craft. Be safe.

 

 


LAST TWO 2013 LKY FIELD INSPECTION DATES APPROACHING

Next week on Tuesday, October 15 and Wednesday October 16, I will be at Dowd’s Diesel in Newberry, SC doing LKY inspections. Rick Dowd is a great guy and this is always one of my favorite trips. If you need an LKY inspection, hazmat recertification or a log orientation, stop by. Be sure either you or your coordinator calls Maria and gets on my list. I will be there from 7:30 to 5:00 both days.

The Florida LKY inspection dates this year are Tuesday, November 12 and Wednesday, November 13. We are going to change things up a bit this year. We will be at Lake City at North Florida Truck Parts which is one of our inspection locations. Get this: The folks at North Florida are going to give me a bay and they are going to roast a hog and feed everybody! If you don’t eat well here, it will be your own fault! Times will be 8-5 both days.

Along with inspections, hazmat recertifications and log orientations, I will also be bringing Rob Curry and his ELD demo unit. If you want to see one in operation, stop by and visit with Rob. As always, if you are planning on joining us in Lake City, you or your coordinator need to call Maria and get on my list.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in South Carolina and Florida. Remember to Be Safe.


LKY INSPECTIONS AND MORE

Thanks to the more than forty of you folks I met with and inspected in Sunbury and Youngwood last week. I always enjoy getting out and talking trucks (and cars, and motorcycles, and grandkids) with you. I am always impressed with the quality of our trucks and our drivers. We had some great meals together and really good conversations about CARB, CSA and electronic logging devices. Several of you are in our ELD test program and I was glad to get your feedback. The volunteer numbers are increasing each week. If you have an interest in the ELD program, call Rob Curry or stop by and see him. His office is right next to my new digs.

A couple of weeks ago I moved down the hall (along with Maria and Misty) to our new offices (8th place in 31 years for me, hopefully the last). This set up is much more efficient than my old office and allows me to work next to Rob. I’ve got several more years left before I retire so I want to spend as much time with him as possible. General Manager Rick Reed is getting evicted from his old office for another project, so he’s now got my old one. No, he didn’t get the model trucks!

There are a couple of things everyone needs to be thinking about: Medical releases and maintanence reports. I hate to preach, so stay with me here:

If you are treated for an injury or illness, I require a doctors release with no restrictions before you will be placed back in service. Diana Young keeps track of the injuries. Those releases should be sent to her. She will share them with me. Misty Burgin handles illnesses and physicals. Those need to go to her. If you are in doubt, send everything to Diana. Whether you are recovering from an injury, illness, surgery or whatever, I will want to know what and how much medication you are taking, both prescription and over the counter. While I respect your privacy, the bottom line is that I have a responsibility to you and your family, to the DOT, to our customers and to the public to be certain to the best of my ability that you are fit, well and capable of safely operating your vehicle. I take that charge very seriously. Arguing about it with either Diana or Misty will not help your case. Their jobs are both difficult enough without a bunch of hassle from drivers about physicals or releases. You need to convince me. That is done through complete documentation of the event and documentation of your recovery and health.

It seems like I’m seeing a few people getting a bit lazy on monthly maintanence reports. The DOT requirement is clear. Anything you do or have done to your truck and/or trailer must be documented on your monthly maintanence report. While I understand that it may be possible to do no maintance on your equipment in perhaps one month, sending in two consecutive months of blank maintanence reports on either the truck or trailer is unacceptable. Most of you get that and do a great job. Unfortunately, a few of you apparently need some additional motivation. I have instructed Lead Truck Inspector David Sloan to compile me a list of folks who are repeatedly sending in blank maintanence reports. If you are in that category, you can expect to be routed to Louisville to explain your maintanence procedures to me in the next couple of months. You can also expect to have your equipment inspected while you are here. If you want to avoid hassle from me, do your maintanence reports.

This Sunday I’ll be doing LKY inspections in Arkadelphia, AR at the fairgrounds. You can get directions from either the HIA or HIT offices. I’ll work from about 3:00pm central until everyone is done. On Tuesday October 15 and Wednesday October 16 I will be at Dowd’s Diesel in Newberry, SC doing LKY inspections. At both places, I will be do log orientations, hazmat recertifications and will have one of our ELD units to look at. If you are going to see me at either place, be sure you call Maria and get on my list.

We’ll be doing something different in Florida for LKY inspections in November. The details will be out next week. I look forward to seeing a bunch of you in AR and SC. I appreciate each of you and the job you do. Be safe.


MORE INSPECTION DATES SET

Here is an update on where I will be doing LKY inspections in September and October:

  • Sunbury, PA (MSU office) Monday 9/23, Tuesday 9/24. 7:30-5:00 both days;
  • Youngwood, PA (Firestone plant) Wednesday 9/25, 3:00-8:00 pm;
  • Arkadelphia, AR (former HIA office yard) Sunday 10/6, 3:00-8:00 pm;
  • Newberry, SC (Dowd’s Diesel) Tuesday 10/15, Wednesday 10/16, 7:30-5:00 both days.

The dates for the Florida inspection in November have not been finalized.  I can tell everyone that we are looking at going to Lake City instead of Tampa this year. More on that later.

If you are planning on meeting with me at any of these locations, please call Maria and get on my list. These will be driving trips, so I will have log books, scanner forms and can bring your safety awards or anything else you might need from Louisville. I will have one of our ELD (EOBR) test units that you can look at, as well.

I look forward to spending time with as many of you as possible. Be safe.


CHECK YOUR BRAKES BEFORE SUNDAY

…….and your log book and your speed and your securement and everything else. Remember, Sunday September 8 is the beginning of the CVSA’s Brake Check Week. Drivers should expect to be inspected thoroughly and often. My advice to everyone is to spend some quality time under your truck Saturday to make sure all brakes are in good shape and adjusted correctly. Expect to be inspected. Be prepared. Be safe.


SUNBURY, YOUNGWOOD INSPECTION DATES SET

September is time for LKY inspections in Pennsylvania. This year I will be at the MSU office on Monday, September 23 and Tuesday September 24 from 7:30-5:00 both days. The Youngwood inspections will be at the Firestone plant on Wednesday September 25 from 3:30-8:30. If you are planning on getting an inspection at either location, be sure to contact my Administrative Assistant, Maria Lafavers, and get on the list. I will be doing Hazmat recerts and log orientations for those in need.

This is a driving trip, so if you need supplies, or have safety award items coming, please let Maria know so I can bring them. I look forward to seeing everyone and spending time addressing questions and concerns. I will have one of the EOBR units with me so everyone can take a first hand look. Be safe.